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Skin Exfoliation: The Do’s, Don’ts, and the Differences

Baby soft skin, that looks more youthful and vibrant? Aaahh yes, we know all about how to get it and maintain your glow. At Pretty Please, we know exfoliation is an essential part of achieving healthy, glowing skin. Especially with our clients in their late twenties and thirties, because this is when the skin renewal process begins to slow down. Our Founder Jennifer Rasa knows that through exfoliation, you’re removing the dull surface layers of dead skin cells to reveal newer, younger skin underneath.

At our New York City facial spa, we provide exfoliation using natural and organic skin products in every service. Additionally, we provide advanced exfoliation treatments such as Microdermabrasion and Organic Peels to help our clients to give them the gift of younger-looking, radiant skin.

We’re going to break down the do’s and don’ts, differences in exfoliation, and tips to ensure you’re polishing away imperfections properly. Let’s start with the dos and don’ts!

Do: Exfoliate 2-3 times per week

It’s important to not over-exfoliate your skin. The point of exfoliation is to remove dry, dead skin, but if you’re exfoliating every other day, you’re not allowing your skin time to naturally regenerate. Exfoliating too much can cause damage and tears to the skin, creating redness, irritation, and inflammation -- which is what we don’t want.

Don’t: Exfoliate Irritated Skin

Whether it’s from sunburn or a skin reaction caused by another product, if you’re experiencing any type of irritation, it’s always best to avoid exfoliating. By scrubbing away at your skin, you could cause more harm than good. We recommend holding off on any type of treatment until your skin has completely recovered.

Do: Follow Exfoliation With SPF

When it comes to your daily skincare routine, sun protection is a must and this step is even more imperative after exfoliating. Once you’ve polished away dull layers of skin, your skin becomes sensitive and is more susceptible to damage from the sun. It’s important to protect your skin and apply an SPF moisturizer before heading out into direct sunlight.

Don’t: Use Synthetic Exfoliants

Avoid using synthetic products like plastic microbeads, we recommend opting for products that use natural and organic ingredients. For example, organic brown sugar scrubs with olive, and tea tree oil are perfect to gently remove dead skin from the skin's surface.

Do: Use Caution When Combining Exfoliation Treatments

Although some exfoliation treatments work well together, some combinations should be avoided.

When using retinol treatments, for example, it’s recommended that you use caution when undergoing additional exfoliation procedures such as waxing eyebrows, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser treatments. This also applies to over the counter medications. To be safe, it’s always best to consult your physician before undergoing any intensive exfoliation treatments.

Exfoliation Mistakes

Yes, exfoliation can bring your skin back to life, taking it from dull and tired to healthy and glowing, but it’s a skincare step that’s often missed entirely or done incorrectly.

It takes the skin 25 days to renew itself naturally by shedding dead cells and generating new ones. As we age, this process takes even longer - dead cells accumulate on the skin’s surface, clogging pores and leaving it looking less than radiant. Exfoliants slough away build-up to reveal healthier skin underneath and allow for greater absorption of the beneficial ingredients in the rest of your skincare routine.

If you exfoliate regularly, you’re already on your way to a radiant glow, however, it’s important to make sure you’re not making these exfoliation mistakes.

Skipping the Eye Area

When it comes to exfoliation, we’re taught to steer clear of the eye area to avoid rubbing delicate skin the wrong way. However, gentle exfoliation can make significant improvements towards reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet. Using an exfoliant like an under eye serum with glycolic acid is a great way to gently remove dead skin cells and minimize the visible signs of aging, revealing a smoother, more youthful-looking complexion.

Choosing the Wrong Product

Does exfoliating leave your complexion looking red and irritated? Chances are you’re using a scrub with large, abrasive particles that are creating tiny tears in the skin. Look for a sugar scrub because the particles are much smaller and will offer a gentle buffing. If physical exfoliants are too much, chemical exfoliants might be your skin’s best friend. Lactic and salicylic acids exfoliate to reveal a brighter and more radiant-looking complexion, and they’re great for sensitive skin types.

Overlooking your Pucker

Lip balm is a quick fix for chapped lips, but regular exfoliation is the key to keeping them soft and smooth, especially during colder seasons. For the perfect pout, treat your lips to a sugar scrub and follow up with moisturizing creamy balm to soothe your fresh baby soft lips.

Difference Between Physical & Chemical Exfoliants?

Based on the exfoliation mistakes, we’re sure you’re wondering what the major differences between physical and chemical exfoliants are. Exfoliants can take many forms and understanding the difference can take your skincare routine to the next level.

Physical Exfoliants

Physical exfoliants are tiny scrubbing particles that you can actually feel with your bare hands. These tiny particles physically remove dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, revealing the healthier skin underneath.

Chemical Exfoliants

A chemical exfoliant harnesses the power of naturally occurring enzymes and acids to remove dead skin cells at a much deeper level. AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) derived from natural substances like lactic acid (from milk) and citric acid (from fruit) remove the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together. BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids), like the salicylic acid naturally found in strawberries, is antibacterial and reach deep into pores to give the skin a deeper clean. While physical exfoliants remove dead skin at the moment, chemical exfoliants work to gently dissolve the dead cells that have settled on the skin’s surface. This type of exfoliant can be used nightly as well.

Can you use both exfoliants at the same time?

The short answer: yes!

Due to chemical exfoliants being gentle on the skin, you can still exfoliate twice a week with your favorite facial scrub. While doing so, it’s important to listen to your skin, if you notice tightness or redness, scale back on how often you exfoliate your skin.

If you’re looking for a professional touch, come see one of our Skin Therapists at Pretty Please in the heart of NYC’s Flatiron district.


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